One of the most important and often overlooked parts of owning a side-by-side is suspension. If you care about having a stable and smooth ride across different types of terrain, you won’t want to ignore or glance over it anymore. Getting professional suspension tuning done can be the best money you ever spend on your side-by-side, when it comes to noticeable performance upgrades.
There are a lot of parts and an almost infinite number of settings a mechanic could change on your UTV suspension, but you don’t need to get that far into it if you don’t want to. Upgrading from stock parts to SxS shocks that can be rebuilt, and committing to a dual-rate system with tender springs and a crossover can greatly improve how your machine handles paved and rough terrain, meaning more comfort for you and other riders.
Anatomy of a UTV Shock
A UTV uses a coil-over shock. You can see the shock with labelled parts here:
There are a lot of small and large parts that work together to make a suspension system work. Most side-by-side shocks consist of two springs: a tender spring and a primary spring. They act together to convert motion into heat, providing you with more control over your machine. Fox has a great video on the different parts of a shock and how they work together:
Basic Parts of a UTV Coil-Over Shock
- Shock body
- Primary spring
- Tender spring
- Body cap
- Preload adjuster
- Cross-over rings
- Spring divider
- Spring retainer and clip
- Bottom-out bumper
- Piggy back bridge
- Piston assembly
- Internal floating piston
- Reservoir assembly
How Noticeable Is Suspension Tuning?
When done properly, suspension turning can drastically increase the performance of your SxS. If neglected or done incorrectly, it can negatively impact or even damage your side-by-side. That’s why it’s important to care about your suspension, whether you’ve owned your machine for five months or five years. You may be thinking the shocks on your UTV are expected to take a lot of abuse, and so they’re designed to be resilient, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need attention.
You’ll probably be surprised by how noticeably better the ride quality is after suspension tuning.
Too Much Preload Is Bad For UTV Shocks
A new set of shocks without the right settings can lead to a rough ride. The number one cause of a rough ride is too much preload. Preload is where the shock collar puts a load on your shock before it’s compressed. Proper preload settings are important for ride quality and height. Too much preload will increase ride height but will lower your ride quality, which is why it’s important that your preload is properly adjusted to your machine and riding style.
A professional UTV mechanic can make sure your shocks don’t have too much preload.
When Should You Upgrade Your Suspension?
If you’re experiencing a lot of sag, then it’s probably time to have a side-by-side mechanic upgrade your springs and check your nitrogen. At R1 Industries, we set our nitrogen to 150 PSI for optimal performance.
A spring kit will increase your ride height and quality dramatically. Aside from swapping springs, you may also have to rebuild or revalve your shocks. An easy way to tell if you’re to that point is to go over a bump and see if you have a springing effect. If so, plan on rebuilding your SxS’s shocks for a better ride.
Two popular shocks that can be rebuilt for Polaris RZRs are Fox and Walker Evans.
Don’t Set It and Forget It
You don’t have to check your suspension every time you go out riding, but you should keep it in mind season to season. If you enjoy doing different types of riding, such as rock climbing and mudding, in addition to trail riding, then you may need to have your shocks adjusted to accommodate for the type of terrain you’re currently on. Have your shocks adjusted for higher ground clearance, go climb some rocks, and then have them readjusted to something more standard for trail riding. This way, you can take advantage of everything the shocks provide for you and your UTV.
UTV Suspension Kits and Tender Springs
For the smoothest ride possible, you’ll want a dual-rate system that includes a crossover. Tender springs sit above the primary spring and absorb the initial energy transferred from smaller bumps and holes, allowing you to enjoy a smoother ride and not feel the rough terrain as much. If you have stock tender springs that are compressed and doing very little, consider getting a tender spring swap kit to revitalize your side-by-side’s suspension.
Ready to Improve Your Ride?
If you’re ready to take your UTV to the next level and haven’t already, you’ll want to get professional suspension tuning done, especially if you’ve been running stock parts for a while. At R1 Industries, our full-service UTV shop in Lindon, Utah, can help you improve your ride. Give us a call at 801-899-2520 to discuss your machine and riding style, so we can get you the performance your UTV was designed to provide with the proper shocks and suspension parts.
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